Hilarion (Ohienko) of Winnipeg

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Metropolitan Ilarion of Winnipeg was a Ukrainian churchman (1940 Archimandrite of the St. Onuphrius Monastery in Jableczna, 1940 Bishop of Chelm, 1944 Metropolitan of Kholm and Lublin (Pidlachia), 1951 Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada), linguist, church historian, and historian of culture. He was also active in Ukrainian politics, both during the revolution and later in emigration.

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Ivan Ohienko was born on January 14, 1882 Brusyliv, near Kiev in central Ukraine (Kiev Gubernia) and educated at Kiev University where he studied Slavic philology under V. Peretts. By 1915, he taught at the university, and during the Bolshevik revolution became active in the Ukrainianization of higher education. In 1919, he was Minister of Religious Affairs in the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) which was at that time headed by Symon Petliura, and after the military defeat of Petliura's forces, together with Petliura went into exile in Second Polish Republic. He remained in Poland between the wars and remained active in the Ukrainian People's Republic governnent in exile. Until 1932, he taught in the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at Warsaw University, but was dismissed under political pressure from Polish nationalist elements.

In 1940, he became Bishop of Kholm in German-occupied Poland.

In the face of the advance of the Red Army, he fled west and in 1947 settled in Winnipeg, in Western Canada, where shortly afterward he became Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. Throughout his long career, in addition to church work, Ohienko contributed to scholarship and other areas of Ukrainian culture.

As a scholar, Ohienko made contributions to Ukrainian linguistics, church history, and the history of Ukrainian culture. He published books on the history of Ukrainian linguistics (1907), the history of Ukrainian printing (1925), the pre-Christian beliefs of the Ukrainian people (1965), the history of the Ukrainian literary language (1950),and published several studies of Ukrainian church history during the Cossack era. He also published a general history of the Ukrainian Church (1942), a two volume work on Saints Cyril and Methodius (1927-8), edited several semi-scholarly journals, and compiled a multi-volume etymological-semantic dictionary of the Ukrainian language which was only published after his death. Most of the works first published in Poland were reprinted in Winnipeg during the Cold War, and then, again, in Ukraine after the re-establishment of independence in 1991.

A political moderate, during the revolution, Ohienko was a member of the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists. He was a populist committed to bringing the church closer to the common people, spreading the achievements of scholarship among wider circles of the public, and narrowing the gap between the literary language and the vernacular. Always firmly committed to Eastern Orthodoxy, some of his works betray a polemical anti-Catholic tone, but he never acceded to the ecclesiastical or political claims of Moscow (see Moscow Patriarchate) and to his death in 1972 remained a strong supporter of Ukrainian church autocephaly and Ukrainian political independence.

Metr. Ilarion reposed on March 29, 1972 in Winnipeg, Canada.


Succession box:
Hilarion (Ohienko) of Winnipeg
Preceded by:
Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of Kiev as Archbishop of Winnipeg
Metropolitan of Winnipeg and the Central Diocese, Metropolitan and Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada (UGOC)
Succeeded by:
Michael (Khoroshy) of Toronto
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